Since May 2001, twi-ny has been recommending cool things to do throughout the five boroughs, popular and under-the-radar events that draw people out of their homes to experience film, theater, dance, art, literature, music, food, comedy, and more as part of a live audience in the most vibrant community on Earth.
With the spread of Covid-19 and the closing of all cultural institutions, sports venues, bars, and restaurants (for dining in), we feel it is our duty to prioritize the health and well-being of our loyal readers. So, for the next several weeks at least, we won’t be covering any public events in which men, women, and children must congregate in groups, a more unlikely scenario day by day anyway.
That said, as George Bernard Shaw once noted, “Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.”
Some parks are still open, great places to breathe in fresh air, feel the sunshine, and watch the changing of winter into spring. We will occasionally be pointing out various statues, sculptures, and installations, but check them out only if you are already going outside and will happen to be nearby.
You don’t have to shut yourself away completely for the next weeks and months — for now, you can still go grocery shopping and pick up takeout — but do think of others as you go about your daily life, which is going to be very different for a while. We want each and every one of you to take care of yourselves and your families, follow the guidelines for social distancing, and consider the health and well-being of those around you.
We look forward to seeing you indoors and at festivals and major outdoor events as soon as possible, once New York, America, and the rest of the planet are ready to get back to business. Until then, you can find us every so often under the sun, moon, clouds, and stars, finding respite in this amazing city now in crisis.
Film Forum is celebrating the eighty-ninth birthday of the one and only Carmen de Lavallade with a special screening of Linda Atkinson and Nick Doob’s 2006 documentary, Carmen & Geoffrey, along with rare footage of de Lavallade and Alvin Ailey dancing the ballet from Porgy and Bess in Howard Beach for a 1960 television show. Carmen & Geoffrey is an endearing look at de Lavallade and Geoffrey Holder’s lifelong love affair with dance — and each other. The New Orleans-born de Lavallade studied with Lester Horton and went to high school with Ailey, whom she brought to his first dance class. Trinidadian Holder was a larger-than-life gentle giant who was a dancer, choreographer, composer, costume designer, actor, director, writer, photographer, painter, and just about anything else he wanted to be.
The two met when they both were cast in Truman Capote and Harold Arlen’s Broadway show House of Flowers in 1954, with the six-foot-six Holder instantly falling in love with de Lavallade; they were together until 2014, when he passed away at the age of eighty-four. Atkinson and Doob combine amazing archival footage — of Eartha Kitt, Josephine Baker, Ulysses Dove, de Lavallade dancing with Ailey, and other splendid moments — with contemporary rehearsal scenes, dance performances, and interviews with such stalwarts as dance critic Jennifer Dunning (author of Geoffrey Holder: A Life in Theater, Dance and Art), former Alvin Ailey artistic director Judith Jamison, dancer Dudley Williams, and choreographer Joe Layton (watch out for his eyebrows), along with family members and Gus Solomons jr, who still works with de Lavallade. The film was made on an extremely low budget and it shows, but it is filled with such glorious footage that you’ll get over that quickly.
“The funny thing about marriage over time is I was very focused on locking it in, and now I just feel locked in,” Sara Juli says in her one-woman show Burnt-Out Wife, which makes its New York premiere February 21-22 and 27-28 at Dixon Place in conjunction with the American Dance Festival. The comedic dance-theater work takes place in a peppy pink bathroom designed by Pamela Moulton, with Juli wearing a range of household costumes (or not much of anything) created by Carol Farrell as she sings, dances, and riffs on relationships while sharing intimate moments and eliciting audience participation. Juli, a Skidmore graduate with degrees in dance and anthropology whose previous shows include The Money Conversation and Tense Vagina: an actual diagnosis, lived in New York for fifteen years before moving in 2014 with her husband and two children to Maine, where she produces the contemporary dance series Maine Moves and runs the fundraising consulting practice Surala Consulting, among other artistic ventures. In preparing for Burnt-Out Wife, Juli and her husband went to marriage counseling, covering as many bases as possible as she explores commitment in deeply personal yet funny ways from a distinctly feminist perspective. The seventy-minute presentation, which involves cake, an original song, and plungers, features dramaturgy by Michelle Mola, sound by Ryan MacDonald, and lighting by David Ferri; tickets are $19 in advance and $23 at the door.
If you haven’t seen Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Rosas perform in New York City, you haven’t been paying attention. She and her company have presented A Love Supreme at New York Live Arts in 2017, Six Brandenburg Concertos at Park Avenue Armory in 2018, and Transfigured Night at Baryshnikov Arts Center in 2019. This week de Keersmaeker and Rosas are performing the North America premiere of Mitten Wir Im Leben Sind / Bach6Cellosuiten (In the Midst of Life / Bach’s Cello Suites) at NYU’s Skirball Center, a series of solos accompanied by master French cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras, who plays a 1696 cello by Gioffredo Cappa, with de Keersmaeker joining each dancer for a duet.
The two-hour piece, which debuted at the 2017 Ruhrtriennale in Germany in 2017, consists of six Bach sections written between 1717 and 1723 (BWV 1007-1012) — the allemande, courante, sarabande, two minuets, and gigue — created with and danced by Boštjan Antončič, Marie Goudot, Julien Monty, Michaël Pomero, and De Keersmaeker. The stark staging, in which the dancers move across a black space around a seated Queyras, with swirling white chalk marks and green and red tape placed on the light-colored floor, features costumes by An D’Huys, sound by Alban Moraud, and lighting by Luc Schaltin. The title comes from Martin Luther’s version of the Latin antiphon “Media vita in morte sumus”; the Lutheran hymn reads, in part: “In the midst of life / We are in death / Who shall help us in the strife / Lest the Foe confound us? / Thou only, Lord, Thou only!” In addition, Bach wrote a freestanding chorale (BWV 383) based on Luther’s three-stanza liturgy; de Keersmaeker has also discussed how she saw the Luther quote on the tombstone of legendary choreographer Pina Bausch. The February 14 show will be followed by a talk with de Keersmaeker and Queyras, moderated by Center for Ballet and the Arts founder and director Jennifer Homans.
The Theater at Gibney
January 30 - February 1, $15-$20, 8:00
Women in Motion and the Bang Group will present their latest Pop Performance this week at Gibney, consisting of specially commissioned works by female or female-identifying choreographers. Founded in 2000, WIM “offers female artists the opportunity to show work-in-progress in a supportive, intimate setting, intended to create a dialogue between artists and audiences.” The Centaur Show, by the duo asubtout (Katy Pyle and Eleanor Hullihan), is described as a “nouveau New Age fantasy death metal poperetta.” Pyle and Hullihan return to their 2007 original to explore how the world has changed in the last thirteen years. Rebecca Stenn’s The Oak and the Willow is like a painting come to life onstage, a duet danced by Stenn and Quinn Dixon, with live music by Jay Weissman on electric bass. And Same as Sister’s Kallax features a Sámi protagonist at IKEA, with Kristina Hay, Leigh Atwell, Hilary Brown-Istrefi, Briana Brown-Tipley, and Jamie Robinson in a work that examines celebrity and consumer culture. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.
Internationally acclaimed Russian prima ballerina Irina Kolesnikova and the St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre will make their US debut February 15-16 at BAM with their lush and lavish production of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Rejected by the Kirov and the Bolshoi because of her size, Kolesnikova ultimately made a home — and a family — with the St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre, eventually marrying founder Konstantin Tachkin, with whom she has two children. They’ve come a long way since he called her a “little red lump in a T-shirt” when she auditioned at the age of ten.
Not to be confused with the St Petersburg Festival Ballet or the St Petersburg State Ballet — the name issue is currently in court — the St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre has toured with such classics as The Nutcracker, Giselle, Cinderella, and The Sleeping Beauty, but their gem is Swan Lake, with two dozen swans and Kolesnikova as Odette/Odile. At BAM, they will be accompanied by the Chamber Orchestra of New York, conducted by Timur Gorkovenko. The Vaganova-trained Kolesnikova also has performed the title role in the company’s Her Name Was Carmen, its unique take on the Georges Bizet ballet based on Prosper Mérimée’s novella, with the setting moved to a refugee site, inspired by her 2016 visit to Balkan camps.